On the first anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s killing, the American President Obama visited Kabul on 2ndMay 2012 to give surprise pat to his soldiers. In the Afghan Capital he also signed a ‘Strategic Partnership Agreement’ with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai thus entered the most delicate phase of US-Afghan relationship amidst a decade-long war in Afghanistan. Instead of thanking Pakistan that day, the US preferred to launch another drone attack in FATA killing ten civilians and leaving about the same number injured. Additionally the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton paid a deep tribute to Pakistan by revising his determination that ‘the US would increase drone attacks on Pakistan side of Afghan border to keep Kabul safe’.
Why this anger, hatred and humiliation from our strategic partner, the US, for whom Pakistan slipped into the so-called ‘war on terror’ in which the later lost its 35,000 civilian lives and about 5000 of its army troops in addition to sustaining $67billion loss of economy in the past decade. Both partners were okay till early 2011 when the issue of Raymond Davis suddenly cropped up. The Pakistani populous felt that issuance of more than 4000 visas to Americans without scrutiny and security during 2009-10 had in fact brought a secret brigade of CIA’s army in the country. Then Osama’s episode of 2nd May 2011 occurred which was taken as an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty. The two countries moved apart. The last strike on their mutual relations was seen when the US attack on Salala [on 26th November 2011] caused death of 24 Pak-army troops including six commissioned officers.
No compensation, even no apology from the US, so the temperature of Pakistani people continued rising. The US drone attacks went on increase instead. Army stood by the general sentiments. The PPP regime, finding the elections nearer, was not in a position to make angry any of the two. The NATO supply routs blocked in November 2011 still going inoperative; Parliament remained in doldrums to take any decision thus America went more furious.
The US exit strategy from Afghanistan could not go smooth either. Direct US negotiations with Taliban in Qatar failed; joint efforts of Pak-US-Afghan Commission could not bring Taliban on negotiation table in Kabul thus direct attacks on the capital increased day by day. US wanted to follow its December 2009 exit plan but had to announce recently [on 2nd May 2012] through Obama-Karzai pact that US would stay in the region for another one decade. Contrarily, there is enormous pressure from the American public for ‘calling back forces’ and Obama also wanted to avoid this pit fall in coming US elections but had to make a repeated announcement that ‘Afghanistan would not be left alone’.
Pakistan’s policy makers are fantastic. Two years back, the US asked Pakistan to help them bring Taliban on negotiation table. Immediate conclusions were drawn that the US got defeated and so would quit soon; thanks to TV live analysis made by Gen Aslam Beg and Gen Hameed Gul. The Pakistan could not come up with facts; he should have dissociated itself from the whole game. When the disappointed America had opted for direct talks with Taliban to get a way out, Pakistan should have stayed aloof; arresting Mulla Brother and putting him in the jail was misinterpreted on both sides.
That was the reason the US ultimately decided not to include Pakistan or Taliban in the negotiation and thus the Obama-Hamid pact of 2nd May 2012 [Strategic Partnership Agreement] is out; exit plans are simply extended for another decade. A very cogent question arises; what the US would do here even if it stays here beyond 2014. What has the US achieved in eleven years war so far; what progress has it made in achieving its objectives – zero. The US has plundered its wisdom, budget, honour, its military’s morale and popular will of its public up till this moment and would loose more with time.
During this year of 2012, two odd events took place in Afghanistan; firstly of burning the Holy Qura’an in Bagram Cantonment and secondly of killing of 16 Afghan civilians by an American Officer on duty. The US government offered formal apology to Karzai government for both events but refused to show similar behaviour for Salala Post killings despite Pakistan’s repeated ‘requests’. On 20th May 2012, US and its allies would assemble in Chicago and announce $4billion yearly aid for ‘rehabilitation & development of Afghanistan’ but what they had given to Pakistan [recall $1.5billion of Kerry Lugar Bill] and what they would allocate for Pakistan’s development; not a penny.
Another most important event in Afghanistan; Taliban attacks on 15th April 2012 had almost ruined the country. Bomb blasts simultaneously at the Afghan Parliament & NATO HQ campus; the American, British, German and Russian embassies and high ranking hotels rocked Kabul. In Jalabad, suicide bombers attacked the airport building. In Gardez, the Police HQ building was brought to trashes. In Logar province, the Governor’s office was taken hostage. In Hamid Karzai’s Presidential palace, the on going negotiation sessions with Hizb e Islami were shifted to a safe house. The delegation of Pakistan’s lady Parliamentarians had to hide them in Pakistan Embassy. Six attacking Taliban were killed and dozens got injured.
What does the whole scenario speaks; that the Taliban had not gone weak despite the American’s war strategy to crush them. Ultimately, the US again resorted to sit on negotiation table with Taliban but with a changed agenda that the Taliban would later launch a forceful fight with Anti-Taliban groups in Northern Afghanistan. Again the same old tactics of ‘divide & rule’; may not be working well in Afghan situation this time.
Despite such hostile situations in the region, the US & Pakistan expect normalcy in their mutual relationship; an astonishing phenomenon. Both have the parallel demands. Pakistan wants that:
- The US should end Drone attacks now unless Pak-Army consulted first for each attack.
- The US should include Pashtun Afghan Taliban in the negotiation process. It is because the Eastern and Southern Afghanistan parts are still controlled by Pashtun Taliban and Karzai has no writ there.
The US at the same time demanded that:
- Pakistan should open NATO supply rout immediately and without any prior condition.
- Pakistan should use its influence to bring Afghan Taliban on negotiation table in Kabul.
The civil & military heads in Pakistan want to perform both functions of their part without hitch or any performance from the US side but this time both are looking at the public anger in Pakistan; taking no risk at the moment but ultimately bow their heads to seek dollars in military and civil aid. Rather to please the general populace, they have already started releasing ‘secret news’ that Osama’s killing operation was done by the US ‘with cogent help from Pakistan’s civil & military bosses’; Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar’s recent interview is referred in this context.
Intelligence guided media reports kept on building general public opinion in Pakistan that ‘the US would bow down within a month if NATO supplies blocked’ but then six months passed. Neither the US offered apology for Salala attacks nor the drone attacks could be subsided. Estimations went wrong; future estimations in Pakistan and media’s hue & cry both are taken as mockery now. They could not know about dens and ammunition in Lyari and got 3 police officers killed & 58 injured; they were unaware of terrorist’s attack plans on Dargai & GHQ and got senior officers hostaged; they were ignorant of buses full of armed men breaking the Bannu jail and got 382 convicts lost BUT knew well about plans of the US & Taliban and were able to read their minds. How could one believe?
What should Pakistan do now; simply to stick to the nationalist approach. To concentrate on the security of Pakistan’s own people especially in border regions, their welfare and rebuild. Forgetting what is happening in Afghanistan; Afghan Taliban and Karzai and the US would make out their own way. Let the dust settle down. Old philosophies of by-gone Generals [that there should be pro-Pakistani rule in Afghanistan] have outdated now; we have already suffered a lot on this count. Let the Afghan people decide their fate; the world community laughs when we try be ‘their guides’; on what basis; ponder into the above paragraph again.